Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Overlooked Movies: The Phantom (1943 Serial)

After last week's comments on the 1996 movie version of The Phantom, I thought I might as well write a little about the serial this week.  There's no trailer on YouTube, but I encourage you to watch Chapter One, embedded below.

I've written before, somewhere or other, about my affection for this serial.  The reason I like it is simple: It's the first thing I remember seeing in a movie theater.  I remember three things: My paternal grandfather took me to whatever movie was showing, the theater was the Palace in Mexia, Texas, and the final scene of the chapter that showed that day was of the Phantom sinking in quicksand (this probably has a lot to do with my theory that quicksand improves any story).  

For 60 years or so I wondered how the Phantom got out of the quicksand.  This isn't an exaggeration; I thought about it fairly often.  so as soon as the serial became available on video, I bought a copy.  Now I know.  If you want to find out, you can watch the whole serial on YouTube.  

The story is pretty simple, and it involves a lost city, another of my very favorite things.  The MacGuffin isn't unlike the one in the movie version, but instead of 3 skulls there are 7 pieces of ivory.  Putting the 7 together will result in a map of the location of the lost city.

Tom Tyler is a suitably athletic Phantom and doesn't have to say much.  He has plenty of fistfights (about one an episode).  There are lots of jungle chases and a great scene on a rope bridge, yet another of my favorite things.  Naturally every chapter ends with a cliffhanger.  It's all great fun.  It's not a Republic serial.  It's from Columbia, but that's okay.  It's great fun all the way if you have an 8-year-old brain, as I apparently do.


August West said...

Years ago we had a public access channel that aired the old movie serials. The Phantom was the best one of the bunch. It was so popular they aired the chapters regularly during the few years when the channel was available.

Unknown said...

Excellent programming.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of things on television today that could be improved by a little quicksand.

Also Congress.


Unknown said...

Absolutely true.

Tom Johnson said...

My dad's favorite. I have it, and watched it once, but have other favorites. I still watch the 1948 Superman serials every couple of years. It may not have been the best, but it has special memories for me.

Unknown said...

That's another one I saw parts of in the theater, Tom.